Spinner shark - Carcharhinus brevipinna


Illustration © Marc Dando

A long and slender shark with a very pointed snout. The pectoral, anal and lower caudal fins usually have black tips. Similar in appearance to a Blacktip shark - Carcharhinus limbatus which has a somewhat larger first dorsal fin with a falcate trailing edge, and the anal fin of a Blacktip shark does not have a black tip.

Gray to bronze above, white underside, with a faint white bank on its flank. The second dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins as well as the lower lobe of the caudal fin have black or dark gray tips in large juveniles and adults. The pelvic, first dorsal, and dorsal caudal lobe may also have black tips, but not always. The fins of young sharks are unmarked.

Males mature at 5.2 to 6.7 ft [1.59 to 2.03 m], females mature at 5.6 to 6.6 ft [1.7 to 2 m], maximum length of 9.8 ft. [2.78 m], but the average size of these sharks is about 6.4 ft [1.95 m] and 123 pounds [56 kg].

This species has a narrow jaw and small narrow-cusped teeth of a fish-eating shark.

Coastal-pelagic on continental and insular shelves, common in shallow coastal waters from the surface to the bottom.

Warm temperate and tropical Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific.


  • Prey – Primarily fish, but also feeds on stringrays and cephalopods.

  • Reproduction – Viviparous (livebearing) with embryos nourished by a yolk-sac placenta. Gestation lasts 12 to 15 months and 3 to 15 pups are born every other year. At birth, pups measure between 24” and 30” [60 to 75 cm] in length.

This is an active, schooling shark. It often makes feeding runs through schools of fish ending in a spinning leap out of the water.

Spinner sharks are sometimes attracted to divers who are spearfishing. Although a Spinner shark has never been implicated in a fatality, the species has bitten humans.